Villagers and Forest Officials Breathe New Life into India’s Only Orchid Sanctuary

In the Himalayan foothills of northeastern India, the country’s only orchid sanctuary has had a facelift. Founded in 1989, Sessa Orchid Sanctuary covers 39 square miles (100 square km) in the state of Arunachal Pradesh, a biodiversity hotspot which is known as the “Orchid State of India.” Sessa villagers and government forest officials have installed a prominent new front gate and a boardwalk. There is also a new visitors’ trail with orchids identified along the way. The sanctuary contains over 230 native orchid species, including Cymbidiums, Dendrobiums, Coelogynes, and other endangered plants. The hope is to increase ecotourism to the area, and help to counter the threats of deforestation, overgrazing, and the illegal orchid trade.

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